Saturday, December 10, 2016 Bring the family for a great day experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of an old fashion country Christmas. Learn how the holiday traditions of the 19th century...View more info
Cracker Country is Tampa’s only living history museum and is located on the Florida State Fairgrounds. It was founded with the purpose of preserving Florida’s rural heritage in 1978 by Mildred W. & Doyle E. Carlton, Jr. The museum holds a collection of 13 original buildings dating from 1870-1912 which were relocated from across the state of Florida. Our buildings range from public buildings like our Terry Store and Okahumpka Train Depot, to private buildings like our Carlton and Smith homes. Today, the historically furnished buildings recreate the lifestyles of the past, and costumed interpreters portray daily living as Florida pioneers.
Right: Portrait of Mildred W. & Doyle E. Carlton Jr.
The term “cracker” dates at least as far back as Shakespeare, who coined it in the play King John. From the early 19th century it was used to describe the hardy, self-reliant and often poor pioneers who migrated from the north in search of a better life in the harsh Florida wilderness. Later, the term became associated with Florida’s rugged cattlemen.
Cattle, descended from stock left behind by the Spanish, roamed freely in the Florida woodlands. Cow hunters used whips to flush the cattle from the underbrush and drive them to ports for shipment north or to Cuba. Whips were not used to strike the cattle. They were popped in the air to make a “crack” sound to get the cattle moving. The sound traveled great distances, making the whip an essential communication tool between cowmen. A commonly used 120 mile cattle drive route across the south central part of the state is known today as the Florida Cracker Trail.